Free Pattern: The Brioche Twister

Hello!

Ever since Nancy Marchant published her amazing books on brioche stitch and I realised that I could hand-knit my favourite machine knitting stitch, I have been smitten. I have done several designs with the stitch including a stockinette brioche stitch in the Frost & Flame shawl, and 2-colour brioche rib trim in the Heritage Heart Jumper and Blackberries and Brioche hat.

And now I have another addition to the collection: Brioche Twister.

knitting pattern Brioche twister scarf by EastLondonKnit

The pattern is meant to be an educational one, so I’ve included intermediate techniques such as a tubular cast on, brioche increases and decreases and a sewn bind off, each with detailed instructions to guide you through.

Brioche Twister knitting pattern by Renée Callahan

And the best bit is that this pattern is available for free if you subscribe to my (new!) newsletter.

(Technical things are not my super skill and I can tell I was tested in setting up the newsletter. It is the type of thing that even an idiot can do, and yet… )

Anywho, I am really pleased to offer this pattern to my subscribers and I am excited to start the newsletter. I hope to be able to collect some fun things together every month for a little bit inbox joy for you!

So please do sign up for the newsletter here!

Happy knitting,

R.

Advertisements

A Yarn Give Away

Hello!

I just wanted to quickly mention that I am giving away a gorgeous skein of Eden Cottage Yarn Oakworth DK on Instagram and there is still time to enter!

Eden Cottage yarn giveaway

To win this bit of lovely, follow me on Instagram ( I am @elkrenee) and tag 2 knitting friends in the comments for this photo.

I got to use some very special yarn for this project (about which more anon…), yarn that I have been saving for such a long time. Ages and ages ago I went down to Brighton and spent a day dyeing yarn with Dani of Lioness Arts. It was my first attempt at dyeing and after much spilling and sloshing of dye, I finally admitted defeat and decided it was time to go black. The result was a surprisingly attractive dark and brooding colour that first made an appearance in the Brioche and Blackberries hat, and has also made an appearance in my latest knitting pattern.

Some time later, I made another trip to Brighton for the opening of Yarn and Knitting, at which I was *obliged* to purchase some of this stunning Oakworth DK from Eden Cottage Yarns. I got 2 skeins but only used the one in the aforementioned design, so I am sending the other to some lucky person!

Good luck and good knitting,

R.

* There was arm twisting and everything! Well, OK, not exactly physical arm twisting, but how could I not?? It is so good….

Port Townsend

Hello!

Just a note to start: I am teaching Brioche Basics and Next Steps in Brioche this Saturday at A Yarn Story in Bath. There are still a few places if you want to know everything there is to know about brioche stitch!*

knitting ELK brioche rib tut-14

*Well, maybe not everything… but all the good stuff;)

This January is all about organisation. I can’t tell you how much time I spent procuring planners and calendars and post-it notes. It is simultaneously a type of procrastination and a valuable activity. If nothing else, I am now well-informed of all the things I didn’t get to last year. As I was taking stock of the stash, I came across some very special souvenir yarn I bought last year on a trip to Port Townsend and am dying to show off to you.

Port Townsend is a lovely little town in Washington State, about 2 hours from Seattle. Although you could walk the distance of the high street in 15 minutes, it boasts not one but two gorgeous yarn shops.

Diva Yarn & Trim is a small but well-stocked shop tucked in to a building with several other shops. Many of the usual suspects were there, including lots of lovely Malabrigo among other luxurious yarns, but this is the one that caught my attention:

Yarn Small Blessings Farm

It is a sport-weight, 100% Romney wool in beautifully natural warm grey. The label affectionately informs the reader that this particular skein comes from the wool of Harriet the sheep. How sweet is that? The Small Blessings Farm is a very active small holdings in Enumclaw, WA and I have to admit I am looking for an excuse to visit on my next trip to Seattle. The question about what to do with a single skein of sport-weight yarn remains. It seems like a hat. Or maybe proper gloves. What do you think?

The other prize was Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop and Fiber Emporium.

Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop

I loved this shop. It is all the things a local yarn shop should be, with space for regulars to linger and a great array of yarn and fibre from small producers. I was lucky enough to visit while Kerri, the shop’s owner, was in and got a picture of her in situ.

Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop and Fibre Emporium

The shop is so well-thought out there is even a lovely porch for weary loved-ones to wait on…

Bazaar girls yarn shop

My treasure from this stop was a single skein of worsted-weight indigo-dyed Rambouillet wool. I wasn’t familiar with the Local Color Fiber Studio, but this yarn feels amazing! Another local business, this time from Bainbridge Island.

local color Fiber Studio

Again, I am thinking a hat… But really, I am open to suggestions! I would very much like to hear your pattern suggestions and just what you do with your single skeins of souvenir yarn.

The yarn was only one factor in a wonderful trip. Port Townsend is a wonderful place for a weekend away.

Port Townsend yarn shops

There are an abundance of fearless deer, no doubt the bane of local gardeners, but so damn photogenic.

Port Townsend yarn shops

The town traded heavily on its picturesquely decrepit Victorian history, a.k.a. photographer catnip. I took literally hundreds of photos. So much good texture and colour.
Port Townsend yarn shops

If you have single skein pattern recommendations, I would love to hear them and if you fancy learning all about brioche stitch and are near Bath, please come join the class!

Happy knitting,

R.

Into Stash…

Hello!

That ‘sort myself out for the new year’ feeling continues to endure for me, nearly 3 weeks into 2016. That may be because I haven’t quite done all the amazing planning I was going to do. More accurately, I have been planning, but until this week, it was distinctly unsatisfying. After finishing the Klee Collection, I haven’t had a big project to work on and have been drifting. It’s a bad habit, but I need a bit of pressure to get things done. So this week, I have been searching for that pressure, and I think I finally found it.

It began with the Curious Handmade podcast, as it often does lately. This month, Helen has focused on stash appreciation and after my big wardrobe clean out, it seemed like cleaning out the yarn stash was also a good idea.

And it was, in the beginning. Then there was a moment in which I was no longer sure I was in charge of the situation. Then I knew I had lost the upper hand to the yarn itself.

Perhaps this is the natural flow of every project: calm optimism, then grouchy chaos, then organised calm.

After some days of not being able to enter the room (barely) containing all the yarn, it started to resolve itself into order. And then I had an idea. I thought perhaps this was the solution to my lack of motivation.

ELK yarn stash knitwear planning

I have many partial skeins of yarn and single skeins. What if I designed a collection which accommodated these scrapes and bits? In the spirit of using what you have and not letting good things go to waste, each design could incorporate the remnants of previous projects and the reclaimed yarns of less successful knits. It may not be wise to mention this, as I have only just thought of it and it will be months before I have anything to show for the idea, but, well, why not? There is some motivation to be found in public accountability….

I began sketching rough ideas based on the yarns I have and how they could be used.

ELK yarn stash and knitwear design

These are really basic silhouettes which will be filled out in the coming months. With so many small amounts of different colours, colour work seems the way forward, so my next step is to do some research into different techniques and traditions, and do some swatching.

Wish me luck on this next knitting quest!

Anyone going to Unravel in Farnham Maltings? If so I will see you there!

Happy knitting,

R.

 

Into Mind

Hello!

Following on from last week’s handmade wardrobe dispatch, I came across the Into Mind blog last year and found it instantly appealing. The minimalist philosophy, the clean appearance and advice all suits the mood I am in now. So I got myself a copy of the workbook.

into mind workbook

And I made a start on working through it. I began with a big clean out.

into mind wardrobe fun_-2

Everything got taken out of drawers and cupboards and divided up. I realised fairly quickly that although I thought I was good only buying things I would use and keeping the wardrobe in control, I had clothing I had not worn more than once in 10 years. Yet, every year I cleaned out my closet and then put these items back in, again unused. Well not this time!

into mind wardrobe fun_

I was especially pleased by the ease with which the shoes organised themselves. It was only that red pair in the left hand corner of the photo that gave me grief. I bought a pair of Alexander McQueen heels in a fit of madness once. They were a size too small and I knew it, but convinced myself that it would work because they were open-heeled… I loved them and actually wore them. Twice. It was a triumph of emotion over reason. They are on ebay now…

into mind wardrobe fun_a favourite dress

This dress, however, is very much the opposite. It may not be the most practical but has seen good use over multiple decades and I love it. The collar is fraying and the zipper is broken, but I am determined to mend it. I decided that the KonMari method was applicable here, and this dress sparks joy.

into mind wardrobe fun_my favourite store-bought cardigan

This is my favourite store-bought cardigan. I have to wonder why I don’t have more, really, as a cardigan is the most useful of garments, and I am a knitter after all!

Next is working all those remaining garments into outfits rather than one-off pieces. I tried to start on this previously, but with the new year comes a little extra motivation, so I will have another go at it. Wish me luck!

Do you think in outfits? This is a challenge for me, but I have a feeling it is the way forward!

Happy knitting,

R.

Happy New Year!

Hello!

Happy New Year people! In celebration of a new year and selfish-knitting season, all my individual patterns are 15% off. Please do have a look at the patterns & join us in the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group for the Klee Collection Knit-Along, if you are that way inclined.

EastLondonKnit Knitting Pattern Sale

It is a shiny new year (my favourite kind) and I have been trying to sort the wheat from the chaff in my resolutions. I love making ’em en mass and then working my way back toward reality. Because I’m not really going to learn Spanish and complete 3 new part-time degrees as well as design 4 new collections before 2017, am I? So, what to focus on this year?

Well, I am still feeling very enthusiastic about the whole handmade wardrobe thing. I especially like it because it’s both personal and global.

The global issues have been well discussed by more knowledge people than me. The environmental impact of mass-market clothing production and the living/working conditions for many of the people who make our clothing, among other ethical considerations, have brought people in the crafting community together, and I feel like I am taking part in something really worthwhile by considering my wardrobe more carefully and making more of my own clothing.

On the personal side, the question of wardrobe has been the sand in my oyster for years; I hope for pearls but often just end up with a bit of annoying grit. I used to think what I wore didn’t really matter, and maybe, in the back of my mind, I still think it shouldn’t. But really, it does. For me, the proof is in the doing. Now that I work from home, I’m not so motivated to get dressed in the morning. I mean, who am I dressing up for? May as well stay comfy.

However.

The truth is that how I dress changes how I feel and what I do, even when I am by myself. If I don’t get dressed, I am less productive and feel a bit like a slob. This is probably a similar logic at work to the ‘smile and you will feel happier’. No doubt this is an obvious thing everyone knows, but I have only just realised. This happens more often than I would like to admit, but let’s focus on the wardrobe today.

So I accept the fact that I have to get dressed. And I know that what I put on when I get dressed also matters.

If I were a swanky business person, I would perhaps discuss personal branding here. ‘Branding’ is a term that puts lots of people off, including me. But I think there’s a context wider than business and marketing for me here. In this case, I am thinking about who I am as a person and who I want to be, which is a more vexed question than it might be.

Pinterest and Instagram are full of positive slogans proclaiming you should ‘be yourself’ in all your quirky glory.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 13.42.29

Am I the only one who doesn’t know what that means? I am in a constant state of flux, which is probably why I like the idea of New Year’s resolutions so much. Why not just decide to be someone different, someone better this year? In fact, why not decide that everyday? This may be a new definition of insanity, or just indicative of a mid-life crisis, but what can I say? I haven’t decided who I am. I am still becoming.

My understanding of myself is worked out through multiple paths—the way I dress and style myself is one of them, as is the work that I do, the people I choose to spend time with, etc. This isn’t only about what I am showing to other people, but also about what I show to myself.

For all of these reasons, my hand-made wardrobe is still on the agenda for 2016. The Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge (which is on-going if you are interested!) really set this off for me last year, and I have been thinking about it pretty much nonstop since then. This year I am going to work out my ‘uniform’ and get my sewing mojo on.

There are other goals, and so many knitwear designs, but that is perhaps for another day…

Don’t forget the New Year Sale on EastLondonKnit patterns runs until 11 January.

Happy knitting,

R.